Who can best determine what people in a community need to improve their lives? Asking them seems to be the most helpful part of a good needs assessment. In Houston, a nonprofit named Neighborhood Centers assesses needs by “spending hundreds of hours conducting one-on-one interviews and community meetings, inviting residents to specify their priorities, identifying the community’s natural leaders and then going after the needed funds.” They seek funds from multiple sources to design efforts to meet those needs.
You can read more about the results of this and related efforts at:
What needs do you think would be identified in your community through such an approach?
How does this approach to needs assessment compare to a more standard social science approach?